Astros 2019: The week before, the week ahead


The week of 3-25 through 3-31 in review

The Astros began the season with a very solid 5-1 win over the Tampa Bay Rays. Justin Verlander struggled early and then shut the door as did the two-headed end of the bullpen Ryan Pressly and Roberto Osuna. Home runs from George Springer, Michael Brantley and Jose Altuve accounted for all the offense and the Astros were off and running. The final three games of the series played out a little differently, but each resulted in an ugly low scoring loss, 4-2, 3-1 and 3-1.

Friday’s 4-2 loss was particularly galling as the Rays turned an Aledmys Diaz error and a loss of concentration after it by Gerrit Cole into 3 unearned runs and a loss to their fine former starting pitcher, Charlie Morton. The team then had winnable pitching performances from Collin McHugh and Wade Miley, but minimal run support and headed off to Arlington on a 3 game slide.

Maybe this signals that the Astros will not be a road centric team this season. We can just hope this does not signal a disappointing season overall.

The week of 4-1 through 4-7 in a preview

The Astros play three against the Rangers in Arlington, where they were 9-1 in 2018 followed by a three game series against the A’s at home, where they were 5-5 against Oakland last season. Hopefully, they get the ship righted, especially the hitting against Texas and carry that over to the weekend against the A’s.

Player of the Week:

Justin Verlander – JV picked up the only win on the week for the Astros with 7 innings of 1 run, 3 hit, 9 K pitching. He gave up a HR and a single to the first two batters he faced, struggled with a walk and HBP in the second inning and then was on cruise control for most of his start.

Stat focus: Ks/BBs

After 4 games the Astros’ pitching staff has an incredible 46 Ks vs, only 3 walks. That works out to a ratio of 15.33. By comparison the next highest in the majors is 7.20 by the Mets followed by 4.50 for the Padres. Maybe they need to be a little wilder to make sure the hitters are not too comfortable?

Pop Song That Should Have Been a Hit – “After the Thrill is Gone” by The Eagles

The Eagles had three big hits off of the 1975 “One of These Nights” album – One of These Nights (a Billboard #1), Lyin’ Eyes (#2) and Take it to the Limit (#4). After the Thrill is Gone could easily have been the fourth big hitter on the album, but was put on the “B” side of Take it to the Limit and never released as an “A” side. Children, singles use to be released with an “A” side (hopeful hit) and “B” side (not good enough, they thought, for a hit).

Glenn Frey and Don Frey swap leads and the SoCal Country/PopRock sound carried this tune along, but it never had a shot at being a hit.

So…. that’s a look at last week, this week, plus a look at some moldie, oldie music. All comments are welcome!!

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59 comments on “Astros 2019: The week before, the week ahead

  1. Things that could happen before the end of the week [i.e. Sunday at sundown].

    1. The Astros’ record could be 7-3;
    2. Aledmys Diaz could be the AL player of the week;
    3. Brad Peacock could have as many wins as JV – OR as many losses as Gerrit Cole – or vice versa [I know, it’s all so confusing].
    4. Carlos Correa might have recorded his first hit in 2018.
    5. We might have scored a run or two by some method other than the home run.
    6. Tyler White could lost 10 pounds.
    7. We might have developed a ‘sign’ system for our pitchers that completely bypasses the catcher’s hands, and thus is harder for our opponents to steal.
    8. Just for us, the Rangers might have re-decorated Globe Life Park to look exactly like the Trop.
    9. A plaque containing the phrase ‘small sample size’ could be retired and put in the baseball hall of fame right next to George Brett’s jar of pine tar. OR
    10. None of the above.

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  2. For whatever reason the Astros have stunk in Tampa. Now if they don’t hit in Texas then we need to worry. It would be nice to see the A team on the field for a few games in a row. We have an off day Thursday so I don’t think anyone is going to be taxed by three games.
    The Rays are a decent hitting team so our pitching should be commended for the overall effort. Allowing a total of 8 earned runs in four games with the K/BB rate they put up is pretty impressive. I get the feeling also that our hitters are getting back to the 2017 philosophy of making contact. The K rate isn’t great but I see signs of greater selectivity from Altuve and even Springer which I think bodes well. Might as well put up a 10 spot on the Strangers tonight.

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  3. It seems there’s a little latitude in today’s new-up, so bear with me because I tried to post Friday nite early on and couldn’t get in. Watching the pregame Charlie Morton interview, I felt quadruple bypassed. Not so much by what he said but by what he didn’t say and how he looked. And then he proceeded to go out cool as a cuke and mow down the yard. I know it’s business and I’m wasting my breath but some players you hold onto, no matter what. Mr. Charlie Morton was such a player and we’ve already rued the day as far as I’m concerned. I know I’m stating the obvious, but the guy carried us to victory in Game 7 of the only World Series we ever won. Just exactly what does a person have to do for job security? Not only that, AJ Hinch says he “loves” (literally) Morton. And he was beloved of teammates and certainly of G. Cole. Again, what do you have to do? Is management so heartlessly bizzed and fizzed as to not comprehend? Probably lost couple others that will affect chemistry but won’t go there. And on that subject, every time I see “Aledmys” Diaz, I think it’s “Alchemy” Diaz, and boy is he going to need some, and soon. And again, I apologize for my Little League sentimentality, but did I mention letting Charlie Morton drift was an unqualified bonehead bollix?

    Liked by 1 person

    • I feel like I’m Mr. Defense the last couple of days – but what the heck. Diane, It is my educated guess based on what I had read before and what has been said about Charlie Morton that his Plan A was to pitch near his family and kids and that Plan B was to go ahead and retire and be with his family and kids. I do wish they had made him a qualifying offer, so we could have picked up a draft pick.
      I don’t blame them for that one.
      Diaz may be a mistake, but it may be less of a mistake than paying a bunch more to hold on to Marwin. I just think they did not believe they would be needing Diaz to be Marwin because Marwin had most of his ABs as a LF last season and they don’t need a LF with Brantley here. Now if Altuve, Correa and/or Bregman miss a bunch of time then they will wish they had gone the other way. I am just not sure if we will ever see 2017 Marwin again. But even 2018 Marwin is a better fielder than Diaz.

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      • No apologies needed Dan. What’s a decent blog without different opinions.

        I would like to think there was a discussion and Charlie wanted to be in Florida one way or another. I believe the Astros wanted to keep him but he didn’t want to stay. Maybe seeing his teammates from last year brought out the nostalgia in him.
        On whatever, I can’t pronounce his first name, Diaz. I don’t have a problem with him as a backup. But I do have a problem using him even after Correa was back. This ain’t the 2013 Astros.

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    • I’d really like to know what the Astros offered Morton. I do think this was all about money. I don’t begrudge Morton leaving -if the Astros had been in the ballpark of Tampa’s offer and he still left so be it. I fully suspect they were putting together scenarios for extending certain players and decided a multi-year contract with Morton would endanger those plans (due to the luxury tax threshold).

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  4. A few solid wins will make everyone happy again. Losing Charlie, signing Diaz, letting Marwin go, letting Keuchel go, signing Brantley, it’s going to take months to figure it all out. Let’s not forget that just a week ago, Verlander said this is the best place in MLB to play. And Charlie could have stayed for a year at a time. And Keuchel could have stayed for 5/90 not too long ago. And it’s likely Marwin could have stayed too, but he was thinking of a much different contract too. So Luhnow went out and got the guy we all think is hopeless today. Diaz might end up hitting 15 dingers playing part time. Who knows?

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    • After this year, Diaz reverts back to an arbitration player for three years. So, he could be non-tendered for nothing other than the loss of Trent Thornton after this season. But, lets give him more of a chance, ok. Marwin’s first year in Houston was pretty awful. He actually had negative WAR in 80 games.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Diane, girl you know how I feel about Charlie too. I was in tears when I saw he signed with the Rays. My heart was broken to see him leave. Everything good happened to Charlie when he was here. First time to be selected to the All Star game, finding the pitch he thought was gone for good, being in a rotation with soo many talented pitchers…..but the BIGGEST wonderful thing for Charlie was getting “that ring”!! Long after he retires, I want him to feel blessed that he was such a LARGE part of that 2017 World Series team!! I saw the look on his face when Springer come up to bat……his heart was beating out of his chest, but he was there to do his job. I love the guy too A. J. Hinch.😭

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    • Becky, I can’t seem to find the balance between the game as a game and attachments to participants, all up against the dollar signs. Maybe it’s time to pack it in.

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      • It is a tough one Diane. In the baseball we grew up with (before free agency) the players stayed with your team longer – well they only left due to trades. Of course here in Houston that meant saying goodbye to Mike Cuellar, Joe Morgan, Rusty Staub, John Mayberry, etc because of stupid trades.
        This is a tough situation for fans in some ways. We had the thrill of winning it all, but it has led us to a point where decisions are being made on a value standpoint, because you can’t afford to turn all your cheap young ‘uns into expensive, not so young keepers.
        The best teams in sports like the Patriots are ruthless. They do not pay over a certain amount and show no sentimentality. That has to be a huge trade off for those fans – but they are probably numb to it by now.
        Well at least we had Paris (the 2017 World Series)….

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  6. looks like we’ll see the rangers bullpen early tonite. thats good for us. tyler white has the look of a professional hitter, had a good at bat and took a walk. marisnick looks more at ease at the plate.

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  7. Was running errands earlier. I tuned in just in time to see Jake get thrown out. My first thought was “Becky will be PO’d….”

    Is that a sign that I’m reading this site too much?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mike Sandefur….you sir are 100% correct. I was FUMING about the stupidity of Marisnick trying to slide into 1st base….. not getting tagged out, but doing damage to his ALREADY repaired thumb from 2018! So yeah..I *WAS*.PO’d!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I do need to apologize for my general grumpiness lately, shortness with everyone and all. I have some things going on health wise that are bugging me and I think I am taking it out on y’all.

    Especially when I think you are being stupid.

    That may be the worst apology ever….

    Liked by 1 person

    • This doesn’t have my name on it, but I tend to answer to “stupid.” When you feel like it, let us know what your issues are so we can thank about you.

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      • Diane – that was a bit tongue in cheek because:
        a) It was not stupid to want Charlie Morton back on this team for what he signed with the Rays
        b) I really don’t think the people on here are stupid
        c) But if they were….you were not the only one wanting us to change things – the Diaz signing, the Marwin non-signing, make roster changes after one series, etc.
        d) And if you want to see stupid – wait until September and then go revisit my predictions for the season

        Liked by 1 person

  9. Dan, don’t bother apologizing I don’t recollect you ever saying something that needed taking back. Unless you think Hinch should continue to give his guys a green light. Or that getting picked off is just being aggressive.

    Our guys are going to start stringing hits together. That’s some of the good news.

    Hope the health issue is not overly significant. Tell us what’s up. Becky will diagnose. Mr. Bill will write you a song. I’ll probably tell you to drink a rum before bed.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I like guys to have flexibility, but it seems a bit odd to have such a speedster in the infield not the outfield.
      It makes me think of Sonny Jackson – a speedy Astros SS, who the announcers speculated might be the first SS to make an unassisted put out at 1B. Probably was a Loel Passe moment – but that never happened. His biggest problem was he couldn’t steal first base.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Wow, that’s a big job to learn at this point in time if you’ve never played there. But, Straw has the arm. He’s fast on his feet. He looks the part. Why not? You want a super deluxe utility guy? I’m all for this experiment!

      Liked by 3 people

    • I forgot Sonny had such a good rookie year at age 21 (after cups of coffee the 3 prior seasons): Hit .292, swiped 49 bags, a WAR of 2.3, runnerup in ROY voting to Tommy Helms. Was he injury-prone? Because after that he was mediocre at best, ending up with a career of 1.7 WAR. Man, that 1966 team also had Morgan, Wynn, Dierker, Don Wilson, Staub and Bob Watson, all under the age of 25…and joined by Doug Rader the next year. How would that core have been for the next 10 years?

      Liked by 2 people

      • One of those questions never to be answered….
        Morgan – Traded after 1971 season at age 27 to the Reds – followed by 8 consecutive All star games, 2 MVPs, 2 other top 5 MVP years
        Wynn – To the Dodgers after the 1973 season at 31 years old – the next two seasons 2 AS appearances and one top 5 MVP
        Dierker – Was here for 10 more seasons, but his overuse as a youngster (like 305 innings as a 22 year old) led to him pitching thru pain most of his 20’s and retired at 31.
        Wilson – at times mercurial talent (2 no hitters plus one he was pulled out of for a pinch hitter late by the idiot Preston Gomez) 18 Ks in a game, but his W-L of 104-92 did not match his 3.15 ERA and his lack of luck ended in either a suicide or falling asleep drunk in his garage with the car running – also killing one of his children sleeping above.
        Staub – Traded after the 1968 season (age 24) – He played 17 more seasons with 4 All Star appearances almost 2000 hits and 1000 RBIs elsewhere
        Watson – Stayed here for 14 seasons – solid near-.300 hitter with the Astros
        Rader – Stayed here thru 1975 – great glove man – ok hitter with power
        Cuellar – Traded after the 1968 season (age 31) – Two All Star appearances and won a Cy Young with Baltimore – 143-88 record with a 3.18 ERA for the O’s

        No telling what these guys would have done if they kept them here, but it sure helped Morgan to be dropped into the middle of the Big Red Machine lineup or that Cuellar did all that after leaving here despite giving up almost 1/2 more earned runs a game with O’s than here.

        Liked by 1 person

  10. I wondered about Chirinos pointing Odor back toward the Ranger’s dugout after throwing him out on an attempted steal last night. I thought Robinson might have been rubbing it in a little bit too much.
    BUT!
    It turns out Odor had told Chirinos before the game started that he was going to steal two bases off of him in the game.
    So, now we know the whole story.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, I got a bit of a kick out of that moment. Too bad the camera guys did not provide us with an Odor reaction.

      Chirinos sure looks like a strong guy, in obvious good shape.

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  11. Somewhere I wanted to see the look on Bo Porter’s face last night when Peacock walked off the mound after spinning a *GEM*! I just remember the UGLY stare that Porter gave Brad during EVERY. SINGLE. START.
    Before spring training in 2015, Brad told his wife they may have to move to Japan, because he wasn’t sure if he would make the team. Brent Strom saw a kid with low self esteem, but with ALL KINDS of untapped talent! So, yeah I’d love to serve Bo Porter a heaping helping of Brad Peacock, on a silver platter. Maybe Brad could show Bo Porter his World Series ring.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Brad Peacock is a pitcher. He doesn’t hit. Ok, maybe he hits better than some of the Astros hitters, but it’s going to have to be some other people on the team who knock in the runs. It’s been a year and a half since the end of the 2017 World Series. Isn’t it time for the hangover to be over?

    Liked by 2 people

  13. Damn, they should have a run in with nobody out. I’m not going to accept Altuve and Bregman having their heads up their butts at any time of the year.

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    • They sure hit a lot of balls hard that turned into outs. You figure you have Verlander against a guy who barely pitched last year and you will win. Can’t figure out baseball sometimes

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  14. Welp….let’s hope that’s the only egg Verlander lays this year! Boy he was REALLY fighting himself tonight.From the first pitch he didn’t look comfortable. Just when I gave up thinking they would NEVER play small ball, they bunt, double steal! I just hope Verlander isn’t hurt.

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  15. Well, I went to bed with a book after our beloved Astros did not score in the 4th. I have to remind myself not to get overly pissed off, especially so early, especially when I have to see the doc for my annual visit this morning. I’d sure like some toast and coffee right now.

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  16. I was encouraged by excellent outings by Harris and Rondon last night. We are really going to to need good years from both of those guys. Give the Rangers credit – they found our weakest bullpen link, exploited it, and took a game from us that nobody gave them much chance to win.

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    • I was disappointed in Valdez’s performance last night. Maybe he needs some more seasoning in the minors. I think we have other options available.

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      • I’m split on this one zanuda….
        – I never thought Valdez with his control problems was the best candidate for the bullpen
        – I thought Guduan outpitched him in the spring
        – On the other hand, the kid has not pitched since a week ago Monday in an exhibition game (where he was bad). But still, not sure you toss a guy after one problematic real game outing (see Verlander, Justin), when he’s been sitting and watching for 9 days.

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      • The Rangers apparently did not get the memo. I don’t know how they missed it – since they steal every other sign.

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